For so many inner city adolescent students, obtaining a quality education can be an arduous task. These disadvantaged children often bear such a brunt of overwhelming socioeconomic forces beyond their control and can be without an abundance of supports to overcome them. In spite of this, when the conscientious student comes along with aspirations for college and a brighter future than a number of her peers, how do urban educators best facilitate her post-high school path?
Take one such student who, with lower than average academic and communication skills than the majority in her grade, managed to receive remediation services, throughout much of her academic career. Over the years, she received a resource study hall, designed to give students access to a special education teacher for homework, projects, and essays due in her classes. She also received language skills therapy from a certified speech-language pathologist as part of the related services team. Eventually, though, her language skills, while not perfect or even average, improved to the point where her difficulties were no longer delayed, per se, just weak and lower than her peers. In other words, this student could get by in her mainstream classes, but given her below average vocabulary skills, world knowledge, and essay writing skills, all by-products of having grown up in her urban neighborhood, she wasn’t necessarily college-ready.
How can the inner city school system now help this well-meaning, hard-working, but ill-prepared student? Normally, with milder difficulties, regular parent involvement at home can make a mountain of difference for such a student. Of course, extra help is available from the teachers of specific classes where the challenges lie, provided the student seeks it out. The nature of this student’s issues, though, is broader, isn’t it?
Exit remediation, enter enrichment. Ironically, urban schools might decide to “advance” her to honors levels classes, where the peer environment is more serious about their studies and where students possess that college-ready design that she lacks. Additionally, the speech-language pathologist can make herself available to further help solidify this student’s language skills with check-ins and since the student is driven, this is a win-win situation for both student and educator. Quality education is accessible for the inner city adolescent and with creative solutions, even the college-inspired student can come away from high school with the right tools for success in the future.